Author: Motivate MD

Prioritizing Wellness in Medicine

Prioritizing Wellness in Medicine

  • Author: Motivate MD

Prioritizing Wellness in Medicine

Wellness in Medicine

As healthcare professionals, it is undeniably our job to care for others. Often, this supersedes caring for ourselves. Imagine your energy and overall well-being as a cup. You are continually tending to the cups of others, being cognizant that they are full, often neglecting your own. The lesson being that if you are constantly tending to the needs of others and “filling their cups,” who will look out for you and care for you like you do for others?  

I can attest to this analogy personally. Studying for my COMLEX Level 1 boards, I had the false ideology that more time studying equated to greater success. As a result, I forfeited time doing things that translated to my overall wellness such as running, and frankly, leaving the apartment. When my COMLEX LEVEL 2 boards rolled around, I took a different approach, focusing on running each day, eating a balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water and not just caffeine. My new approach moved mountains, it felt. My score paralleled how I felt physically which made the achievement all the more memorable.

We will talk about a few tips for managing stress, anxiety, and depression amidst various sentiments in the field of medicine:

Schedule time for YOU

This can often be the hardest when there are so many things to do, though you should not feel guilty about this one. This is essential! I always tell people “do one thing today that is for you.” This will ensure that your cup is being filled each day. This tip is rather vague on purpose – choose your “you time” activity: reading a novel, bubble bath, a walk outside, cooking, time with your significant other, journaling, etc. Keeping a scheduled time for tasks specifically designed for you will ensure you also look after yourself when caring for others. 

Eat a Balanced Diet and Drink Water

No, you cannot survive off of coffee and whatever is sold at Starbucks or the local coffee shop. Besides, that adds up! Plan out your meals and make it a routine. Meal prepping wholesome foods will, in turn, fuel you for whatever endeavor you take on that day. Put aside the processed food for fresh, wholesome ingredients. Also, carry a water bottle with you and drink often! How much water should you drink? I recommend ½ your weight in ounces. 

Get Enough Sleep Each Night

There will certainly be checks and balances with this one, but the moral of the story is practice good sleep hygiene in order to have fuel for your academics, work, and personal relationships. Start this in your undergraduate education so that it begins to permeate your future medical education early. You might be asking yourself, “how is this even possible, there is too much to learn!” Trust me, it is possible. I always slept 8 hours prior to exams and never stayed up all night studying because I felt doing so would do more harm than good. Remember, good things in = good things out! 

Stand and Take a Stroll Every 30-45 Minutes When Studying

The pomodoro technique has gained popularity over the years with students in multiple disciplines, though you can certainly individualize it to your own style. I recommend standing and walking every 30 minutes, so be sure to set a timer to remind yourself when you may be increasingly focused on your work at the time. This technique can certainly help in increasing overall productivity and focus. 

Be Positive

You would be surprised by the power of positivity. Focusing on the positive aspects among challenging circumstances can be difficult. When I was in medical school, I would often only focus on one day at a time, which amidst increased stress, this was admittedly what I could handle. Similarly, I would focus on one thing that day that was a positive aspect: my health, my family, my dogs, being afforded the opportunity to continue my education, coffee. This allowed me the chance to stay grounded and continually focusing on positive things as opposed to allowing the negatives to flood my mind. Try this tomorrow: one day at a time and one positive per day, at least! 

Surround Yourself With Supportive People

Are you familiar with the phrase “birds of a feather flock together”? How about “misery loves company”? Whichever way you dissect these phrases, we can interpolate that like-minded individuals are found together. Now, it is your decision who to place yourself around! 

Each of these tips is just a start to get you headed in the right direction. Trust me, I do not expect you to run out and get an annual yoga membership and expensive food plan after reading this. I do expect you to fill your own cup. This is so essential to enduring an arduous education. It should never feel like your education is taking pieces of you away, because at the end of the day, what will be left to give? Care for yourself like you would patients and the benefits will be multifaceted. 

Written by: Emma Fenske

The List of Flexible Physician Side Gigs

The List of Flexible Physician Side Gigs

  • Author: Motivate MD

Best Side Income for Doctors: Educational, Clinical, Non-Medical, and Investment Options

Physician Side Gigs

Part 1: Introduction

Student loans, rent, car note, insurance, phone – it often can seem as though the bills are stacking up against a limited resident salary. Based on Medscape’s Residents Salary and Debt Report 2021, the average resident salary is approximately $64,000. Now, NerdWallet reports an average medical school loan debt of $201,490 and with a 10-year repayment plan, this would equate to a monthly payment of nearly $2,300. With all of this broken down, you may be scrambling for extra change. Here are some ideas for physician side gigs amidst increased outgoing bills: 

Part 2: Educational Side Hustles

Motivate MD

Motivate MD 

Consultant opportunities such as application essay editing, interview prep, and advising for companies like Motivate MD can offer flexible schedules for supplemental income. With Motivate MD you can work with both pre-medical and medical students for medical school and residency applications. Take 5-10 minutes to fill out the application here.

Mentorship/Instructing Students 

Many medical schools and colleges offer positions for residents and attending physicians to instruct medical students in their basic science coursework. This can allow an opportunity for you to refresh your own knowledge in topics while enhancing the education of others. Check with individual universities and colleges in your area to inquire further about this. 

YouTube

Many physicians have documented their journeys via YouTube videos. Have a story you want to share with others? Consider vlogging! 

Writing 

  • Blogs
  • Medical textbook contributions
  • Research journal editing

Part 3: Clinical Side Hustles

Clinical Physician Side Gigs
Telemedicine Physician Side Gig
Pharmaceutical reviews Doctor Side Gig
  • Moonlighting
  • Pharmaceutical reviews 
  • Telemedicine consults 
  • Administration work

Part 4: Non-Medical Side Hustles

Dog Walking
Food Delivery
Uber
AirBnB

Pet Services – Rover, Wag

Are you a pet-lover? You might consider opening your home to visiting dogs for boarding or doing drop-in visits as well as house-sitting at clients’ homes.

Food Delivery – DoorDash, GrubHub, UberEats

If you have a reliable means of transportation, delivering food a few nights a week might be a simple way to earn extra cash, especially during increased popularity of food delivery services following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transportation – Uber, Lyft

Similar to opportunities delivering food, having a reliable car might open opportunities to transport others around, depending on your location. If you have a passion for meeting new people and driving around the city – this might be the side hustle for you!

Rent a Room/Home – AirBnB, VRBO

Is hospitality in your genes? If you have an extra room or guest house where you would be willing to host guests, this can be an easy opportunity to rake in extra money as a resident or physician.

Part 5: Investment Side Hustles

Investing in stocks – Robinhood, E*TRADE

While there may certainly be fluctuations in stock, there can also be significant profit! Check out the various sites like E-Trade and Robinhood that offer tutorials and learning material to get started, even if you are a new investor. 

Real Estate 

With increased income, you might consider purchasing another home as a rental for long-term tenants to bring in additional income.

Whatever side gig you consider taking on, remember to balance your priorities as well as take time for self-care. Additional income can certainly offset an increased debt to income ratio, though this should not be at the expense of your happiness and well-being!

Best Medical Schools

Best Medical Schools

  • Author: Motivate MD

Best Medical Schools in the US

A list of the top ranked med schools and advice on how to create your own list.

Best Medical Schools
Top Medical Schools in US

Part 1: Introduction

Let’s face it: making life-altering decisions is a frightening process, and applying to medical school is no different. 

Deciding which medical schools to apply to is a very personal decision based on your goals and interests, and it’s an important part of being a successful candidate. Pre-medical students start forming their medical school list by relying on their pre-health advisors, mentors, and the internet.

Part 2: How Medical Schools are Ranked

Rankings are a large part of our culture, and medical schools are no different. The most sought out ranking list for pre-medical students is from U.S. News. Before we provide the list, let’s first breakdown how the U.S. News creates the list:

  • Surveyed 191 allopathic and osteopathic schools accredited in 2020 by either the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) or the American Osteopathic Association.
    • 129 schools responded with enough data to calculate an overall rank
    • 123 schools were ranked in both the research and primary care rankings
  • Primary care and research rankings were derived from weighted averages of the indicators listed below:
    • Quality Assessment
    • Peer assessment score
    • Assessment score by residency directors
    • Student Selectivity
    • Median Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, score
    • Median undergraduate GPA
    • Acceptance rate
    • Faculty Resources
    • Research Activity
    • Total federal research activity
    • Average federal research activity per faculty member
    • Primary Care Production
    • Medical school graduates practicing in primary care specialties
    • Medical school graduates into primary care residencies

Overall, understanding the U.S. News’ methodology can allow pre-medical students to realize that the rankings are derived from a plethora of indicators, yet, not all accredited medical and osteopathic schools are evaluated.

Why is it important to highlight this?

Think about it! You will spend at least four years at the school of your choice! Prioritizing the optimal environment in which you will develop as a scientist, individual, and leader is the formula for success.

Each medical school, whether allopathic or osteopathic, has its own set of beliefs and goals; it is vital to determine that your personal interests are aligned with the medical schools to which you are applying.

As a result, I strongly advise all pre-medical students to disregard national rankings while compiling their medical school list. Rather than that, begin by exploring a school’s mission statement and focusing on what is most important to the institution.

Personally, if you were to ask me, what made my medical school the right one for me? This would be my answer:

Consider what type of environment you will thrive in for the next four years. For me, I wanted to attend a school that: 

  • Implemented an inclusive environment
  • Equipped me with knowledge, opportunities, and networking to reach my professional goals 
  • Prioritized wellness 
  • Offered academic resources, such as free tutoring

Below, you will find the U.S. News Week’s Best Medical School Rankings and below, the information added is what we recommend students to focus on:

  • Mission Statement
  • Personal Characteristics
  • Financing of Education
  • Environment

Part 3: Free Ranking Worksheet

Part 4: List of the Best Medical Schools

#1 Harvard Medical School

Mission Statement: 

“To nurture a diverse, inclusive community dedicated to alleviating suffering and improving health and well-being for all through excellence in teaching and learning, discovery and scholarship, and service and leadership.”

Characteristics:

What does it mean to be a Harvard doctor?

“A Harvard Medical School education prepares students to excel in the rapidly changing landscape of modern medicine through a curriculum grounded in the study of leading biomedical science and clinical experience, a rich diversity of degree program choices, and a history of innovation that continues to set the standard for excellence in medical education in the United States and around the world.”

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $64,984 (full-time)
  • Required fees: $1,803
  • Room and Board: $16,345
  • Generous Aid, Low Debt

“Harvard Medical School has one of the most generous MD financial aid programs in the country. On average the HMS Financial Aid Office administers over $40 million in loans, employment, and scholarship funding from various federal, private, and school sources to approximately 73 percent of the HMS student body. As a result of our generous financial aid programs, HMS maintains an average graduating debt well below the national average. Students in the HMS Class of 2020 graduated with an average medical debt of $106,877 which compares favorably with the $185,682 national average at private medical schools.”

The power of financial aid from the perspectives of alumni and current students.

Environment:

“Harvard Medical School’s Longwood campus is in the heart of one of the nation’s most vibrant cities. Boston’s unique charm and character emerges from its central role in American history and the easy access it offers to a cosmopolitan abundance of personal, social, and professional opportunities.

With over 40 colleges in the area and an intellectual tradition that has resulted in the emergence of many of the nation’s most influential religious, philosophical, and political movements, Boston offers HMS students a wealth of academic resources. Biotech research also has a formidable presence in the neighborhood alongside HMS’ own renowned research presence.

The HMS campus is located across the Charles River from Harvard University’s Cambridge campus. The travel distance between HMS and Harvard University is minimal with many public transportation options bridging the two campuses.”

Source: Harvard Medical School

#2 New York University (Grossman)

Mission Statement: 

“We strive to enroll a diverse group of academically talented students with the personal attributes, endeavors, and accomplishments to succeed as future leaders and scholars of medicine. Our ultimate goal is to enroll a student body with a collective desire to improve the health of all segments of our society through outstanding patient care, research, and education. We believe our full-tuition scholarship initiative will lead to better patient care and will benefit society as a whole by turning the best and brightest future physicians into leaders with the potential to transform healthcare.

As a student at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, you complete your studies in one of the most vibrant and inspiring urban classrooms—New York City. While here, you have access to patients from around the world and to the most advanced research and clinical facilities.

Our curriculum for the 21st century empowers you to adapt your medical training to your educational goals and prepares you for a broad range of careers in medicine. In addition to our MD degree and dual MD/master’s degrees, you can pursue our pioneering accelerated three-year MD pathway.”

Characteristics:

“​​At NYU Grossman School of Medicine, you’re more than a student or a researcher. You’re a member of a diverse and exciting academic community where our commitment to innovation and collaboration is evident in everything we do. We have a long and proud history of pioneering scientific discovery, but we’re not content to let our past define us. We constantly strive to find bold new ways to fulfill our trifold mission: to serve, to teach, and to discover.”

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • Free (full-time)
  • Required fees: $3,480
  • Room and Board: $15,860

Environment:

“No matter the degree pathway they’re pursuing, medical students at NYU Grossman School of Medicine are passionate about the future of healthcare and their own futures. Their diverse backgrounds make for a vibrant learning community. Their merits transcend test scores and academic metrics and have as much to do with the determination and compassion that burn bright in their hearts.”

Click here to meet 5 NYU Grossman School of Medicine highlighted students.

Source: NYU Grossman School of Medicine 

#3: Duke University

Mission Statement/Core Values: 

Core Values

  • “Excellence in education, research and patient care
  • Respect for and inclusion of people from all backgrounds
  • Commitment to service, solving real world problems
  • Sense of urgency in transforming discoveries into improved human health
  • Professionalism and integrity demonstrated in all aspects of performance and effort”

Characteristics:

“Duke University is located in the Research Triangle area of central North Carolina—composed of the cities of Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill. The Triangle is commonly recognized for its availability of jobs, diversity, relatively low cost of living, affordable housing, safe streets, culture, and nationally ranked food scene. Each city in the Triangle is anchored by major universities: Duke and N.C. Central University in Durham; N.C. State University in Raleigh; and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill. 

In addition to living in these communities, Duke University School of Medicine and Duke Health strive to improve the health of people and neighborhoods and promote good will as ambassadors of the communities we serve. Faculty, staff, trainees, and students are engaged in programs and services with our community partners to achieve shared goals.”

Source: Duke University School of Medicine

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $61,170 (full-time)
  • Required fees: $3,741
  • Room and Board: $16,786

Environment:

Click here to learn more about Duke in Durham, NC.

#4 (Tie) Columbia University – Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons 

Columbia Medical Center

Mission Statement: 

“The mission of Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) is to prepare future graduates to be leaders and role models in patient care, medical research, education, and health-care policy.”

Characteristics:

“Become a physician with compassion, a sense of self, and true grit in all medical pursuits. The Columbia MD curriculum combines basic science and clinical medicine with humanism and professionalism. Choose a one-size-fits-you experience with research endeavors, university-wide electives, and the VP&S Club: the broadest student activities organization for the arts, athletics, and community outreach in American medical education.”

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $64,868 (full-time)
  • Required fees: $6,239
  • Room and Board: $19,048

Environment:

“Columbia is home to students from diverse backgrounds driven to make a difference in medicine while also pursuing a range of artistic talents—from music to theater to painting—that bring joy to others and nourish empathy on their path to becoming physicians and surgeons. The ballet dancer turned aspiring physician and Space Medicine Club co-president? Check. The medical student whose experiences living in the United States and abroad shaped his commitment to health care equity? Check. The violinist who provided care to Harlem’s homeless population during medical school? Check. Read on for more about our talented students.

Source: Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

#4 (Tie) Stanford University

Mission Statement: 

“To educate and inspire a diverse group of leaders in medicine and science who will improve human health through discovery, innovation, scholarship, education, and the delivery of outstanding patient-centered care.”

Characteristics:

“With close ties to Stanford University and a world-class medical center, Stanford University School of Medicine sets the training ground for the next generation of biomedical leaders and pioneers.  All of the resources of our campus – extraordinary faculty and peers, state-of-the-art facilities and a diverse campus life – will provide you limitless opportunities to interact with a community of scholars who will support your educational endeavors and make you feel at home.”

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $62,193 (full-time)
  • Required fees: $1,118
  • Room and Board: $35,180

Environment:

Check out StanfordMed’s Students

Source: Stanford Medicine 

#4 (Tie) University of California – San Francisco 

UCSF

Mission Statement: 

“At UCSF, the purpose of medical education is to educate learners who will improve the health of our communities and alleviate suffering due to illness and disease in our patients. The UCSF School of Medicine Bridges Curriculum educates MD graduates to excel in the competencies needed by 21st-century physicians.

The MD program objectives are defined by seven core MD competencies: patient care, medical knowledge, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, systems-based practice, and interprofessional collaboration.”

Characteristics:

“At UCSF, our learners approach health care challenges with critical thinking and a spirit of inquiry. As tomorrow’s health and science leaders in training, UCSF students embody our passion for advancing the health of our communities.

UCSF is a leader in health sciences curriculum innovation. Our educators transform medical education to reflect real-world patient needs, and advances in the sciences that support patient care. With the Bridges Curriculum, we provide training and opportunities for clinical experiences that enable students to make immediate and impactful contributions as members of interprofessional care teams.

  • UCSF is committed to the health of communities, locally and globally
  • We pursue science in the service of healthcare and equity
  • We are driven by a spirit of discovery and innovation
  • We are recognized as national leaders in educational science”

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $36,342 (in-state) (full-time)
  • $48,587 (out-of-state) (full-time)
  • Required fees: $6,449
  • Room and Board: $29,500

Environment:

“The UCSF School of Medicine encompasses facilities at 11 sites throughout the city of San Francisco and in Fresno. The school is headquartered at the central Parnassus Heights campus on Parnassus Avenue near Fourth Avenue, adjacent to the UCSF Medical Center.”

Source: UCSF School of Medicine 

#7 (Tie) Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins

Mission Statement: 

“The mission of Johns Hopkins Medicine is to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence in medical education, research and clinical care. Diverse and inclusive, Johns Hopkins Medicine educates medical students, scientists, health care professionals and the public; conducts biomedical research; and provides patient-centered medicine to prevent, diagnose and treat human illness.”

Characteristics:

“What makes a medical school great? At the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, it’s our rich history combined with the latest technology and medical innovations. But, it’s more than that: What makes us great is the passion for medicine and healing shared by our faculty and students, a dedication that permeates everything we do.”

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $56,500 (full-time)
  • Required fees: $5,897
  • Room and Board: $24,250

Environment:

View the below video for Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Virtual Tour for Prospective Students.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine 

#7 (Tie) University of Washington

University of Washington

Mission Statement: 

“The University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM) is dedicated to improving the general health and well-being of the public. In pursuit of its goals, the School is committed to excellence in biomedical education, research and healthcare. The School is also dedicated to ethical conduct in all its activities.

As the pre-eminent academic medical center in our region and as a national leader in biomedical research, we place special emphasis on educating and training physicians, scientists and allied health professionals dedicated to two distinct goals:​

  1. Meeting the healthcare needs of our region, especially by recognizing the importance of primary care and providing service to underserved populations
  2. Advancing knowledge and assuming leadership in the biomedical sciences and in academic medicine

The School works with public and private agencies to improve healthcare and advance knowledge in medicine and related fields of inquiry. It acknowledges a special responsibility to the people in the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, who have joined with UWSOM in a unique regional partnership. The School is committed to building and sustaining a diverse academic community of faculty, staff, fellows, residents and students and to assuring that access to education and training is open to learners from all segments of society, acknowledging a particular responsibility to the diverse populations within our region.

The School values diversity and inclusion and is committed to building and sustaining an academic community in which teachers, researchers and learners achieve the knowledge, skills and attitudes that value and embrace inclusiveness, equity and awareness as a way to unleash creativity and innovation.”

Characteristics:

Five States, One School

“M.D. students study throughout Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho for maximum experience across urban and rural environments.

WWAMI is the UW School of Medicine’s one-of-a-kind, multi-state medical education program. The acronym, WWAMI, stands for the states served by the UW School of Medicine: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. UW medical students have access to a variety of settings for clinical training: from a busy Level I trauma center in Seattle, WA, to a small primary care clinic in Libby, MT, to working with Alaska Natives in Anchorage, AK. Community-based clinical faculty volunteer their time to educate our medical students.”

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $37,760 (in-state) (full-time)
  • $69,186 (out-of-state) (full-time)
  • Required fees: $383
  • Room and Board: $19,632

Source: UWSOM

Environment:

#9 University of Pennsylvania (Perelman)

University of Pennsylvania (Perelman)

Mission Statement: 

“Our mission is to advance knowledge and improve health through research, patient care, and the education of trainees in an inclusive culture that embraces diversity, fosters innovation, stimulates critical thinking, supports lifelong learning, and sustains our legacy of excellence.”

Characteristics:

“Medical students can customize their education to suit their interests. More than 50 percent of each class remains at Penn beyond four years to take advantage of resources for dual degrees, certificates, global health experiences, and research.”

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $59,910 (full-time)
  • Required fees: $5,587
  • Room and Board: $23,502

Source: Perelman School of Medicine 

Environment:

#10 Yale University

Yale University

Mission Statement: 

Yale School of Medicine educates and nurtures creative leaders in medicine and science, promoting curiosity and critical inquiry in an inclusive environment enriched by diversity. We advance discovery and innovation fostered by partnerships across the University, our local community, and the world. We care for patients with compassion, and commit to improving the health of all people.

Characteristics:

“The mission statement of the Office of Admissions is to admit a diverse class of outstanding students who show the greatest promise for becoming creative leaders in medicine and science. With their broad range of experiences, backgrounds, knowledge and humanity, these students commit to improving the health and well-being of all people.”

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $64,864 (full-time)
  • Required fees: $1,090
  • Room and Board: $17,903

Environment:

“Yale School of Medicine (YSM) fosters a holistic approach to student well-being and promotes wellness, in all its forms, as one of the principal elements of student and scholarly life at Yale. Student well-being permeates our formal curriculum, extracurricular opportunities and support services.

Student well-being is inherent to the philosophy of the Yale System of Medical Education, which cultivates a supportive, non-competitive community. At YSM, there is a recognition that the structure of the entire educational experience must reflect and be responsive to a commitment to all students’ well-being. Therefore, this commitment is built into our approach towards learning and the formal curriculum.

YSM’s extracurricular opportunities are extensive and varied. Because we are part of a vibrant University, our students have access to an even broader set of possibilities to explore and people to engage with from all different backgrounds and disciplines, expanding well-being resources.

New Haven, a culturally-rich, diverse city, adds even more opportunities for promoting student well-being. Because of its relatively small size, New Haven has a strong sense of community and provides many avenues for active engagement.

We recognize that each person will find different opportunities that appeal to them to enhance their well-being – whether, for example, it is the arts, exercise, volunteering, spirituality, nature, service, family and friends, sports of all kinds, different activities at different times, and sometimes, simply relaxing.

A central tenant of student well-being at YSM is that everyone is part of our community. We all benefit from every student feeling a part of the community and wanting to be engaged, in whatever capacity is fulfilling to that individual.

From a support services perspective, both YSM and Yale University have people, programs, and processes dedicated to ensuring students have the support needed to enhance access, success, and well-being.”

Source: Yale School of Medicine 

#11 (Tie) Mayo Clinic School of Medicine (Alix)

Mission Statement: 

“To provide an outstanding medical education that results in an inspired and diverse workforce of physicians and scientists who are leaders in advancing exemplary, equitable, and affordable clinical care; health care system design; and related innovation. To alleviate human suffering and best serve critical health needs of our broadly diverse and increasingly connected nation and world.

Essential to achievement of this mission is an exceptionally talented, passionate, and diverse faculty and student body who engage with one another, their patients, and communities; have high intellectual and emotional intelligence; uphold the highest ethical standards; possess the ability to lead and inspire; embrace differences in service to humanity; are committed to eradicating health care disparities; and are patient-centered, inclusive, and team-oriented.”

Characteristics:

“A national school for diverse learning opportunities

With three campus locations in Rochester, Minnesota; Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona; and Jacksonville, Florida; as well as more than 70 smaller, regional practices in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, you’ll have options to experience a wide variety of practice settings and work with cases from the common to the complex.

Through a collaboration with Arizona State University (ASU), you’ll also have options to complete your training with more than a medical degree. In addition to a medical degree, all medical students receive a certificate in the science of health care delivery that closes the gap between what you learn in your training and the challenges of the current health care environment.

Students also have the option to pursue a variety of dual-degree options. These programs give students the opportunity to prepare for every possible career aspiration while they complete their medical education.

Faculty members who know your name

Our 3.4:1 full-time faculty-to-student ratio is one of the highest in the country. Beyond full-time faculty, students have access to more than 3,700 other Mayo Clinic clinicians and researchers across all three campuses. This translates to faculty that cares not only about your education and success, but about you as a person.

We should also mention that our faculty includes some of the brightest minds in health care. You’ll have open-door access to the authors of some of your textbooks and learn from the best physicians, researchers, educators and scientists in the world.

Personalized curriculum and training

Medical school is not one-size-fits-all and we don’t treat it that way. It’s important that you graduate with a strong sense of the doctor you want to become. We help you accomplish that with a flexible curriculum that provides opportunities to explore your interests. As part of your curriculum, you’ll have the ability to design your education through Selectives and choose what you want to learn and do.

Our programs are non-competitive and operate on a pass/fail evaluation system. This ensures students can focus on their well-being without worrying about rankings.

Leaders in scientific disciplines and technology

Health care isn’t static and neither are we. We bring discoveries to the classroom as soon as possible and provide students access to some of the most cutting-edge technology available, such as 3-D printing, virtual reality, simulation, artificial intelligence and robotics.

Motivated by diversity

We thrive on diversity. Not one of our students enter their program with the same background. Our diversity helps us approach situations with a variety of backgrounds that present different solutions to arrive at the best results.

Students are respected members of the health care team

Here, you have an identity that reaches far beyond the classroom. As a student, you are a respected member of the team. You’re never “just a student.” With our team approach to patient care, your input matters and your voice will be heard in every aspect of your education and training. Our goal is to ensure you feel empowered in your practice.

An inclusive community

We love our strong sense of community. Our small class sizes allow us to get personal. Starting on day one, you’ll be paired with a MedSib family as well as a faculty mentor. These mentor relationships will help you get engaged and find answers to your questions, from what to expect in your first year to where to find the best sandwich in town.

Graduate outcomes

Our students graduate with a long list of accomplishments and excited about where they’re headed next. Though the national trend for medical students matching to residency programs is declining, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine students consistently match to top-tier residencies in their chosen specialties. About 98 percent of our fourth-year students report a match to one of their top three residency choices.

Education program objectives

Our education program objectives are based on Mayo Clinic’s RICH TIES framework — respect, integrity, compassion, healing, teamwork, innovation, excellence, and stewardship.”

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $58,900 (full-time)
  • Required fees: $0
  • Room and Board: $22,308

Environment:

Check out Mayo Clinic’s Student Life

Source: Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine 

#11 (Tie) Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis

Mission Statement: 

“In leading the advancement of human health, Washington University School of Medicine will:

  • Cultivate excellence and collegiality within an equitable and inclusive community
  • Attract, develop, advance and support a diverse and talented current and future workforce
  • Innovate through discoveries and inventions in basic, clinical, translational and population sciences
  • Build and support an environment that fosters exceptionally creative research, health care, education and the well-being of our workforce
  • Use our academic excellence and scientific rigor to continually advance and enhance health care in a way that ensures access, compassion, high value, equity and evidence-based care for all people in our community, including those who are underserved and uninsured
  • Observe the highest standards of ethics, integrity and humanity across all missions
  • Apply advances in research, education and health care to the betterment of the human condition locally and globally”

Characteristics:

“We offer rigorous learning opportunities in a supportive environment that fosters camaraderie and collaboration over competition.

Washington University School of Medicine is dedicated to training tomorrow’s leaders in healthcare and medicine.

Our students graduate with outstanding opportunities for highly sought-after residencies and fellowships, engaging research endeavors, and successful and rewarding careers in medicine, health care and public health.”

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $64,231 (full-time)
  • Required fees: $4,249
  • Room and Board: $20,970

Source: Washington University School of Medicine 

Environment:

#13 (Tie) University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh

Mission Statement: 

“Pitt Med’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of individuals and populations through cutting-edge biomedical research, innovative educational programs in medicine and biomedical science, and leadership in academic medicine. We strive to implement this mission with the highest professional and ethical standards, in a culture of diversity and inclusiveness, and in an environment that enables all students, faculty and staff to develop to their fullest potential.”

Characteristics:

“At the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, we want applicants who will make exceptional doctors. We try very hard to achieve a class that is diverse in regard to academic, socioeconomic, experiential, and ethnic background. Since our curriculum includes considerable time spent in small-group learning, we look for students interested in collegial relationships with peers and faculty. Lastly, we want our students to enjoy a full, rich life while they are here at medical school, so we are attracted to candidates who have a variety of interests in addition to medicine.” – Beth Piraino, MD, Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid 

Financing of Education:

Tuition:

  • $57,684 (in-state) (full-time)
  • $59,930 (out-of-state) (full-time)
  • Required fees: $956
  • Room and Board: $18,225

Source: PittMed

Environment:

#13 (Tie) Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt

Mission Statement: 

“The vision of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine is to shape a future in which all persons reach their full health potential.

The core values of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine are integrity, inclusion, humility, equity, mutual respect, and excellence.

The mission of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine is to catalyze the advancement of impactful discovery, servant leadership, and lifelong learning.

In order to carry out this mission, we make these strategic commitments:

  • To nurture the growth of clinicians, scientists, and educators who will serve and lead their local, national, and global communities.
  • To create, implement, and disseminate new knowledge that expands understanding of health, disease, and healthcare systems.
  • To teach, learn, and provide compassionate, personalized caring of the highest quality for every patient who seeks our service and to strive to achieve health equity in the populations we serve.
  • To embrace a culture of lifelong learning, critical thinking, and innovation so that we will continuously improve in all we do.
  • To build a diverse community of faculty, staff, and students that expands the richness of our learning environment and enhances excellence in all of our endeavors.
  • To cultivate a caring atmosphere and workforce that seeks to eliminate structural racism, promote justice, and establish racial equity in all endeavors.”

Characteristics:

Message from the Dean:

“Medical school isn’t to be “gotten through.” It’s an experience to savor as you evolve into the physician you want to be – equipped to navigate the change ahead on your journey through a career in medicine. You’re choosing a place that will be the beginning act in the drama of your medical career. It’s no longer simply preparation – it’s an experience that merges learning and practice.

Like many of the faculty (and deans) at Vanderbilt, as a graduate of this medical school I have a deep connection to the traditions and the experiences of its students. We have a personal, vested interest in training physicians who are not only exceptional clinicians, but also “specialists” at building relationships with people. We provide that kind of education through a highly personal, yet broad intellectual experience that enables leadership in the fast-paced change taking place in all corners of biomedical science and health care.”

Check out the entire Dean’s Message

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $60,870 (full-time)
  • Required fees: $734
  • Room and Board: $24,180

Environment:

Check out Student Life

Source: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine 

#15 (Tie) Northwestern University (Feinberg)

Northwestern University (Feinberg)

Mission Statement: 

“Our mission is to impact the practice of medicine through discovery and education to improve human health. Our vision is to achieve this mission through continuous quality improvement.

The pursuit of excellence requires a learning organization grounded in leadership, innovation, and compassionate care that can translate new knowledge into better human health. These attributes are interwoven by professionalism dedicated to teamwork, collegiality, and social and intellectual diversity. Such values promote the best interests of medicine and further strengthen our social contract with the community we serve.”

Characteristics:

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $64,262 (full-time)
  • Required fees: $5,992
  • Room and Board: $18,744

Source: Feinberg

Environment:

#15 (Tie) University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Mission Statement: 

“The University of Michigan Medical School fosters a visionary culture. The changes proposed in our curriculum transformation reflected our efforts to attract, encourage, and reward those who have grand ideas and wish to improve the world of medicine.”

Characteristics:

“Our faculty, partnered with a dedicated staff, is committed to creating the future of health care through discovery. This includes offering a medical education that sets the standard for discourse, intellectual rigor and creativity. Throughout our 20 clinical and nine basic science departments, we are committed to a single mission:

“To transform health through bold and innovative education, discovery, and service.”

We graduate approximately 170 physicians annually, strengthening a body of UMMS alumni more than 20,000 strong. Our alumni include Nobel Prize winners, including Marshall Nirenberg (Ph.D. 1957), who won the 1968 prize in physiology or medicine for his work on the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis; and Stanley Cohen (Ph.D. 1948), who received the honor in 1986 for discoveries leading to the understanding of mechanisms that regulate cell and organ growth.”

Financing of Education:

Tuition: 

  • $41,790 (in-state) (full-time)
  • $60,240 (out-of-state) (full-time)
  • Required fees: $643
  • Room and Board: $26,500

Environment:

Source: University of Michigan Medical School

Do you need help with your medical school application?

Part 5: Additional Lists According to Specialties

Best Medical Schools: Primary Care

#1 University of Washington

#2 University of California — San Francisco

#3 University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill

#4 Oregon Health and Science University

#5 University of Minnesota

#6 University of Colorado (tie)

#6 University of Nebraska Medical Center (tie)

#8 Harvard University

#9 University of Kansas Medical Center

#10 University of Massachusetts — Worcester

#11 University of California — Davis

#12 University of California — Los Angeles (Geffen) (tie)

#12 University of Wisconsin — Madison (tie)

#14 University of Rochester

#15 University of Michigan — Ann Arbor

Complete Lists:

 

Best Medical School Rankings (#1)

Research: Harvard University

Primary Care: University of Washington

Anesthesiology: Johns Hopkins

Family Medicine: Oregon Health and Science University

Internal Medicine University of California — San Francisco 

Obstetrics and Gynecology: University of California — San Francisco

Pediatrics: University of Pennsylvania

Psychiatry: Yale University

Radiology: Johns Hopkins University

Surgery: Johns Hopkins University

Diversity: Howard University

Graduates Practicing in Medically Underserved Areas: University of South Carolina

Graduates Practicing in Primary Care Fields: Midwestern University (D.O.)

Graduates Practicing in Rural Areas: The Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine at University of Pikeville (D.O.)

Tips for MCAT Studying

Tips for MCAT Studying

  • Author: Motivate MD

Tips for MCAT Studying

Learn how to effectively study for the MCAT

tips for mcat studying
How to best study for the MCAT

We assume you landed on this post because you are preparing for one of the biggest exams of your career.  Kick start your test prep with these tips for MCAT studying

1. Pace Yourself

Studying for the MCAT is a marathon, not a sprint. As much as you’d like to think that studying until midnight every night will help you cram in more information, it will just lead to you feeling burnt out and exhausted. Make time for yourself, for friends and family, and for sleep!

2. Study Smarter, Not Harder

There are plenty of study techniques out there that have been tried and true for students to help you study more efficiently. Investigate some and try them out! For example: 

  • The Feynman technique is a learning method where you practice explaining a concept you’re learning in a simplified way to help identify gaps in your knowledge.
  • The SQ3R involves Surveying the chapter you’re about to study, formulating Questions about the content of the chapter, Reading the full chapter and answering the questions you’ve made, Reciting what you’ve read in your own words, and Reviewing the material to fully understand it.
best way to study for mcat
Source: Toolshero.com

3. Check In With Yourself

When you’ve finished studying a difficult topic, ask yourself: “Did I understand everything I’ve just studied?” If the answer is no, revisit the topic and find additional resources that may help you learn it! It is often easy to get into the habit of studying to “check it off the list.” Don’t let your studying become passive.

4. Lessons Learned Journal

This is a technique that I found to be very useful. You will come across a topic or a practice question that you don’t understand or get incorrect. When this happens, write it down in a journal in one short sentence that explains the topic or the correct answer.

PRO TIP: Before you start studying new material each day, review your journal!

5. Identify and Focus on your Weak Points

Did you struggle the most with organic chemistry, or maybe physics in college? Don’t stress, a lot of people have trouble with these topics. Identify this early, and focus your studying on these topics! Don’t be afraid to rely on your expertise in other areas to shift study time to topics that are more difficult for you.

6. Don’t be Obsessed with Perfection

Many people taking the MCAT tend to be perfectionists and may be discouraged if they don’t understand a topic at first or get many questions wrong. The time to get those questions wrong is right now while you’re studying so you don’t get them wrong on the actual test! Understand that getting things wrong or struggling with a topic is a learning experience, and working hard to learn that material will make it stick even better in the long run.

7. Practice Reading Research Articles at your Own Pace

A great portion of the MCAT will involve reading and interpreting research articles. Take the time to explore an article on your own in an area of interest for you. Read through the introduction slowly, take time to understand how the data is presented through graphs and tables, and carefully read through the conclusion. This will help you become more familiar with the format and learn to pick out the important information faster.

8. Find Your Study Material and Stick to it.

There are many materials available for the MCAT, and it can be easy to get lost trying to decide which material is best. The real secret is: there is no best material. People have had great success with Kaplan, Princeton Review, and a number of other resources. The best option is to just pick one and stick to it. I personally used Kaplan, and filled in gaps of knowledge using Khan Academy videos that are all provided for free.

9. Practice Tests 

You may have heard or seen similar advice already, but there truly is no replacement for taking practice tests and doing practice problems. Part of studying for this exam is learning how the exam works, the kinds of questions they ask, and which questions you struggle with the most. Take these practice MCAT exams as often as you can, ideally one full length a week, and review your answers. Let the questions you got wrong guide your studying for the next week!

Click here for a free MCAT exam and other free resources. 

10. Make a Plan

Take a look at how many days you have before your exam (MCAT dates can be found here) and how much material you need to get through. Give yourself a set amount of work to complete each day. And when you finish all your work for the day, don’t be afraid to just call it a day and take a break!

As much as you need to learn the material, you need time to process and store the material as well. With a solid plan, you’ll never have to worry about whether or not you’re keeping up with the material. And if you plan out your schedule and realize you need more time, don’t be afraid to move your exam back! 

We hope this post helped you to learn the best way to study for the MCAT with these tips! We wish you the best of luck! 

Questions to Ask During Medical School Interviews

Questions to Ask During Medical School Interviews

  • Author: Motivate MD

Questions to Ask During Medical School Interviews

Sample questions to ask both faculty and medical students

Questions to Ask During Medical School Interviews
Best questions to ask at your medical school interview

Part 1: Introduction

I am sure at this point you have made it through the thick of your interview preparation. You have dissected the common medical school interview questions and practiced through mock interviews. Now, you are likely at the point where you are finishing up your preparation and contemplating what questions to ask during medical school interviews.

What is important about this process is not to just ask questions for the sake of asking them or because that is something “you should do” during interviews. It is essential to ask questions to demonstrate your interest in the school as well as acquire information that may be necessary for you to make a decision later about which medical school you would like to attend, should you get multiple acceptances.

Furthermore, questions you ask during your interviews can also allow interviewers an opportunity to make a decision about your candidacy for medical school admission. Below are some of the biggest pieces of advice I give to pre-medical students during the preparation process. 

Part 2: Common Pitfall

Do not ask questions of which can be easily found on the school’s website. 

This is a common pitfall for students and often is the product of simply asking questions because they think this is required of them during the interview process. To that end, if you have a question about something like the curriculum, organizations available to students, and experiences in the way of early clinical exposure – check the website first! This is often something schools make readily available to applicants. However, if you have a question based on  something you read from their site that is not available, then certainly ask! For instance:

  • “I read a significant amount about neuroscience research offered by your institution. Are there specifically opportunities available in the realm of epilepsy? I would be humbled to continue my research in this topic.”

As you can see, this question is meticulously structured to introduce the student’s experience in research while inquiring more about research opportunities. Therefore thoughtful, well-constructed questions can ultimately reflect positively on the applicant so we certainly want to be mindful of which questions are asked on interview day.

Part 3: Preparing Interview Questions

Prepare questions for both medical students and admissions committee members. 

Often, schools will have both medical student interviewers and/or opportunities to speak with medical students and ask questions in the way of scheduled “meet and greets.” For each of these circumstances you will want to have questions prepared.

Think hard – what questions would you want answers from medical students specifically? This is often a good time to ask about the culture of the school as well as the approachability of faculty/staff. As you can tell, these are questions that are best left for medical students as opposed to admissions committee members as you may get more candid answers from medical students. 

On the other hand, questions asking about upcoming changes at the school or why an interviewer chose the school might be best to ask admissions committee members. Asking questions like these will allow you to understand the complete picture of what a school is about and determine if you might be a good fit there.  

Do NOT ask the following questions: 

  • “What aspects of my application or candidacy are a concern for you?”

    • Remember, you want to ask questions which are purposeful. A question like this might serve to point out your flaws despite a student’s intention to appear eager to improve. 
  • “Why did the school have a low pass rate for Step 1/Level 1 in year X?” 

    • Now is not the time to put the school on the hot seat. While this is information you may be interested in knowing, perhaps the interview is not the time to inquire about this information. Alternatively, you may ask What does your school do in order to prepare students for Step 1/Level 1?” As you can tell, this question has a similar purpose and allows you to make an informed decision about the school’s strategies for preparing students for board exams.

The overarching lesson for this section is that it is often not what you say, but how you say it. Be confident though always meticulous to leave a positive impression on your interviewer. 

A few questions to consider asking your interviewer:

  • “Why did you choose to be affiliated with this school?”

  • “How did the curriculum change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?”

  • “What qualities do you think are important for a medical student to thrive at this school?”

  • “What advice do you have for an aspiring medical student going into their first year?”

  • “Are there research opportunities in the realm of X?”

    • For virtual interviews: “What aspects of the school or environment am I missing by being unable to interview in-person?”
  • “I read that the school offers a curriculum based upon x (ex. team-based, problem-based hands-on clinical experience, etc.). Can you speak on this?”

  • “What do you perceive as the greatest strength of this school that delineates it from others?”

  • “What is your favorite part about the city?”

  • “To what extent does the school emphasize student wellness and work-life balance?”

These are just a few questions to get you thinking. Remember, you will want to use these as a basis to build off of in order to create your own unique questions to show your interest as well as delineate you from other applicants. Think hard about what you value in your future education and ask about these aspects if you are unclear whether the school offers them or not. 

Overall, asking questions of interviewers and medical students during the interview process can seem simple, though you will certainly want to brainstorm and jot these questions down in advance.

Your goal through asking questions is to appear as a well-informed, thoughtful applicant. It is critical to remember that you are in control of the interview dialogue and where the conversation goes. Similarly, the questions you ask allow the interviewer to form additional impressions about you so be sure to make these equally as prepared as your responses for common interview questions

Written by Emma Fenske, view all of her posts here

Medical School Update Letter

Medical School Update Letter

  • Author: Motivate MD

Medical School Update Letter

Medical School Update Letter

The medical school waiting game is hard at every step of the application cycle. You wait for your MCAT scores to be posted, you wait for the secondaries to roll in, and you wait for interview invitations. Perhaps the hardest time to wait, however, is the dreaded stretch of time after interviews until…a yes? A no? A…maybe? Is no news from medical schools good news? It’s enough to give any Type A pre-med an ulcer. 

It can be hard to wait. It can also be hard to know if you should provide schools with additional information during that difficult period between interviews and a response. With the med school acceptance process being a bit of a ‘black box,’ sometimes applicants end up waiting months without a clue as to where they stand. It’s like being ghosted after a great first date. 

For that reason, for many premeds, medical school update letters are the enticing equivalent of a “heyy,” text that you send, sheepishly, to your crush after a few weeks of radio silence. Like that text, update letters and their counterparts, letters of interest/intent, can sometimes feel a little cringy, and may leave you wondering if they actually work.

Med school update letters do have their place, and used judiciously they can remind programs what an asset you are as a candidate.

In this article, we’ll explore when to send an update, when to skip it, as well as what to say and avoid. We’ll even provide you with a handy template to use as your foundation. No need to feel awkward about reaching out to your number one crush…we mean, med school.

When and Why to Send a Medical School Update Letter

First, let’s explore what an update letter is, and the forms it can take. For some, an update letter is simply that…a description of new activities or accomplishments that you perceive will have a significant impact on a committee decision. Think of this like updating your Tinder bio with new and relevant information for potential dates.

But update letters can also have a stronger purpose. You can send a letter of interest (akin to sliding into someone’s DMs) or a letter of intent (a proposal of marriage in written form). You can send multiple update and interest letters, but your letter of intent, if you chose to pen one, should only be sent to your true top choice

  • Your letter of update says, “Here’s what I’ve been up to, thanks for your time!”
  • Your letter of interest says, “I loved being at your school, I’m really interested in these programs and professors, my new activities would strengthen your class and your program.”
  • A letter of intent says, “I’m yours. If you accept me, I’m matriculating. No questions asked.”

While there are different intensity levels and different purposes underpinning each of these letters, ultimately, all letters should still accomplish most of the same things. Here are the situations and goals of any letter that you send to the schools to which you’ve applied: 

  1. Situation: You haven’t heard from the school in a while. You’ve interviewed, but it’s been crickets for months. Goal: Remind them you exist and you’re great! 
  2. Situation: You actually have an update and it’s significant. Goal: Tell them what it is and why it makes you an even better candidate for med school. 
  3. Situation: You can connect your update to the mission, vision and goals of the program to which you are applying. Goal: Draw these parallels for your committee and be clear about why they’re important. 

Sending a medical school update letter is appropriate if:

  • you’ve been interviewed,
  • you’ve been put on a waitlist
  • you’ve yet to hear back from a school with a yes or no.

In rare cases, if a school you’ve applied to has neither offered you an interview nor rejected you, late in the cycle, you could consider sending a letter before an interview.

If a school has rejected you, an update letter, even a letter of interest or a letter of intent, won’t make them change their mind.

When to NOT Send a Med School Update Letter

The most important, and hopefully most obvious response to this question is, don’t send if they don’t accept update letters! During your interview, ask school admissions officers if their office accepts update letters. Send an email if you need to double-check or can’t find the information on their website, but just don’t do it if they say they don’t want to see them; it will reflect poorly on you as a candidate. While schools won’t consider the contents of your letter, they will remember that you sent it when they asked you not to.

When sending an update, also think critically about whether or not the length of time between correspondence merits a communication. If you were interviewed a week ago, do not send an update letter. It’s just too soon.

Similarly, if you don’t really have an update that’s significant, don’t send a letter. Things that you’re continuing to do (school, work, research), that haven’t changed since your primary application do not warrant an additional communication with programs. 

How to Write a Medical School Update Letter

If you determine that an update letter is appropriate, what should your letter include? There’s a few things you want to keep in mind when writing your letter, to make sure both the content and tone are appropriate.

Here are some key things to keep in mind when you sit down to write:

Demonstrate Follow-Through

If there’s a project or a paper that you mentioned in your primary application that has grown or developed since you last spoke to the school, tell them about it; show that you can finish what you start. Show schools the ways in which you persist in working toward a goal or accomplishing a task. Connect those goals to success at their medical school. 

Show Dedication to Your Professional Development

Connect your letter to ways in which your updates prepare you for medical school.

  • Why is your publication significant to your future as a physician?
  • Is your goal to work in academic medicine? To be a physician scientist?
  • How does this conference or volunteer work prepare you for medical school?

Make these professional connections for your readers. This doesn’t mean you can’t mention your personal life, or your participation in the latest viral TikTok craze, but put it in the context of medical school. 

For example:

In order to prioritize my mental and emotional wellbeing, an important skill for a future healthcare provider, I take a break every once in a while to collaborate on TikTok challenges with my friends.

As long as it’s in the right context, personal updates are great. They show who you are and what you value outside of education, which will make you a well-rounded healthcare provider. 

Focus on Strengths, but with Humility

While an update letter should tell all the new and evolving ways that you’re great, it’s also important to be humble and gracious when describing your accomplishments. An attitude of gratitude is key for these letters. 

Remember: One of the most-prized competencies that admissions committees look for in an applicant is teamwork. Acknowledge that your accomplishments occur within a greater context of people who support you and make the dream a reality. 

Similarly, consider humility when it comes to your tone. Don’t start your letter with an accusatory statement like,It’s been a few months since I heard from you, or I would have expected to hear by this point in the cycle, given my numerous accomplishments.” 

It’s a little like sending a text that says, “How dare you ghost ME? I’m WAY out of your league.” 

Just don’t do it. 


Consider something like this:

The opportunity to have an article on hypertensive rats published in the New England Journal of Medicine was certainly an honor, but it would not have been possible without such a supportive and dedicated research team. I look forward to continuing such important work as a student at School of My Dreams.

Connect it to the Program’s Mission, Vision, and Goals

Your accomplishments are, of course, meaningful and important to you, but you have to make them meaningful to schools as well. Why should they care that these milestones or achievements occurred in your life? What does that prepare you to do, specifically, at their program? Be specific here, and avoid regurgitating information you see on a program’s website. They know all about their own curriculum–why does it work for YOU? They know their mission statement–why does YOUR volunteer work prepare you to carry out their vision?

For example:

My recent Nobel Peace Prize has prepared me to support School of My Dreams’ dedication to upholding equity and diversity in medicine. I share these values, and would be honored by the opportunity to earn an education at School of My Dreams.  

Specifically reference the parts of the program that you’re referencing, but keep it brief, focusing instead on the connection between the school and your contributions. 

Keep it Short, Sweet, and Engaging 

Your update letter should be no longer than a page. That’s it. No exceptions. No messing around with the margins or changing the font, either. Keep it brief. Medical schools know how to get in touch with you if they have any questions. 

Hopefully this guide will help you feel secure and confident in reaching out to the schools or school of your dreams, during that challenging waiting period premeds are all too familiar with.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll feel so great, you’ll be inspired to reach out to that person you went on a date with a few weeks ago.

Or maybe not. 

Until then, use the following template and example as a guide to shape your own update letter. And hang in there. Waiting is tough, but it won’t be forever. 

Medical School Update Letter Template

Date

Dear School of My Dreams Admissions Committee, 

My name is First-Name Last-Name [AMCAS ID: 123456789] and I am an applicant who interviewed at School of My Dreams on [Month, Day, Year]. I enjoyed my interview day immensely, and in the meantime have appreciated learning even more about your program through [publication, conversation with alum, news story]. I appreciate your consideration of this update letter, which provides additional information about my ongoing professional endeavors, new pursuits, and developments in my personal life. 

Paragraph 1: In regard to my professional goals and development, I would also like to update you on the status of [ongoing professional activities]. This work will help me prepare for my medical education.  

Paragraph 2: Furthermore, I have had the opportunity to engage in new activities as well. These include: [new professional activities]. I’m grateful to have this new opportunity to grow my skills in preparation for [specific school program, curricular element, student organization].

Paragraph 3: Finally, I am excited to share [personal life updates]. I look forward to finding a community of similarly enthusiastic individuals at [School of My Dreams] to share these hobbies with during our free time. 

Paragraph 4 (optional): I wish to also express at this time, [School of My Dreams] is the only program at which I can imagine pursuing my medical education. If given the privilege of a School of My Dreams education, I know I would contribute meaningfully to the community it serves. 

(Expression of intent or interest)

Thank you for your consideration. 


Sincerely,

First name, Last Name 

Medical School Update Letter Example

January 26, 2018

To the __________ Admissions Committee,

My name is ______, [AMCAS ID] and I was an interviewee at your program on December 9 of last year. I was excited to read your program’s recent statement of support in support of undocumented applicants; I appreciate that so much great work is happening at ______. I’m sure it continues to be a busy time in your office; I appreciate your consideration of several updates to my application.

First and foremost, a study on which I was a co-author, Risk Factors for Recurrent Neurotrauma: A Population-Based Study in Southeastern Michigan, was accepted for publication in a forthcoming issue of the journal Brain Injury. Additionally, my nonprofit, Share Your Service, wrote and received a several thousand dollar grant from the organization World Connect.  This will enable us to support Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in crafting their service stories to share in various social justice forums. This work will proceed in the coming months.   

There has also been a change in my employment status since September. I was promoted to the AmeriCorps Program Coordinator position at the Community Health Improvement department of Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system. 

I am responsible for overseeing the program development, recruitment, training and implementation of the AmeriCorps grant awarded the department. This position allows me to continue working with and advocating for an underserved community, a goal I aspire to continue at _____, through the ______program.  We have made it a policy to hire exclusively from the Recovery community such that our CHWs are integrated into the communities they serve. I have also worked closely with our director of research to conduct an inquiry into the efficacy of Employee Assistance Programs for people in recovery, and support a qualitative review on patient experience with the program. I am hopeful that I can do similar work with Dr. ______, if offered the opportunity of a ______ education. 

Finally, I have also been offered and accepted a part-time position teaching Sociology and Psychology for the MCAT with The Princeton Review. 

I thank you for your time and consideration of this update. Please let me know if there is any further information I can provide. 

Sincerely,

_______

Medical School Letter of Intent Tips

Medical School Letter of Intent Tips

  • Author: Motivate MD

Medical School Letter of Intent Tips

Learn the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How

Medical School Letter of Intent
Letter of Intent Example and Info

Part 1: Introduction

At this point, you have likely submitted both primary and secondary applications for either AMCAS, AACOMAS, and/or TMDSAS. Perhaps you have also received interview invites as well as have interviewed at various schools. Despite all of the labor-intensive aspects of the application being behind you, there is still work to be done! Here are a few tips in the form of “the 5 W’s” for writing a medical school letter of intent:

Part 2: Who, What, When, Where, and Why

At this point, you have likely submitted both primary and secondary applications for either AMCAS, AACOMAS, and/or TMDSAS. Perhaps you have also received interview invites as well as have interviewed at various schools. Despite all of the labor-intensive aspects of the application being behind you, there is still work to be done! Here are a few tips in the form of “the 5 W’s” for writing a medical school letter of intent:

WHO should write a medical school letter of intent?

Medical school applicants of whom are interested in a particular program, for instance their “dream school” should consider writing a letter of intent. If a student has interviewed at multiple schools, though is particularly interested in one, a letter of intent would be an excellent addition to the student’s application to demonstrate interest in that school. 

WHAT is a letter of intent?  

A medical school letter of intent is a one-page, professional letter written to a school’s admissions committee. This particular school is one of which an applicant is willing to commit to, if accepted. In other words, by writing the letter, you are telling the school “if I am accepted, I will attend.”

The letter of intent is a SINGLE letter, written to solely one school. Writing this type of letter to multiple schools can be viewed as unethical and remember, you are only as good as your word or promise. This differs from a letter of interest in that a letter of interest can be sent to multiple schools to articulate or emphasize the applicant’s interest in the school. 

WHEN should I submit a letter of intent?

The letter should be written only if the applicant has interviewed at this particular school, approximately one month after interviewing. As an aside, remember to send a thank you message following the interview at the school to express your appreciation of the school’s consideration of you as an applicant. 

WHERE do I submit a medical school letter of intent?

Often, this letter can be submitted directly to the med school’s admissions committee point of contact (secretary, receptionist, administrative assistant, etc.) or uploaded to the applicant’s application portal, if applicable. Keep in mind that the document should be sent or uploaded as a PDF so that it is accessible to the reader regardless of their computer’s operating system.

WHY should I submit a medical school letter of intent?

This letter will serve as an additional element to demonstrate your interest in a particular school. Often, if a school knows that you are invested in them, they will similarly invest in you as a student at their institution.  

Part 3: Letter of Intent Example and Template

HOW to write a medical school letter of intent?

Date 

Name of School/Program

Address

City, State / Zip 

To Whom It May Concern / Dear Dr. X, Director of Admissions, 

Paragraph 1: 

  • List your interview date and include any highlights of your time interviewing with the school. 

I was afforded the opportunity to interview at School X on September 29, 2021 and was excited to learn Dr. X was also from my hometown, Albuquerque, NM. Aside from this, I thoroughly enjoyed my discussions with current medical students about opportunities offered by the school as well as was grateful to learn more about their experiences in medical school thus far.

  • Express your gratitude of their consideration of you as an applicant 

I wanted to express my sincerest gratitude for your consideration of me as an applicant. 

  • State that if offered the opportunity to attend their institution, you would accept without hesitation. 

Due to nothing but positive and reaffirming experiences during my interview as well as my interest in neurobiology research offered by your institution, it excites me to say that if offered a seat at your school, I will certainly accept without hesitation.

Paragraph 2:

  • List the specific reasons why this school is your first choice. Avoid generalities that may be applicable to other schools. 

Through my education thus far, I have learned that a hands-on and collaborative curriculum benefits me to the utmost extent, which is also an aspect of School X that interests me and places your institution at the top of my list. 

  • You may choose to also include specific experiences which paint a picture of why you would be a great addition to their study body. 

I am certain that my experiences creating a non-profit for underserved, marginalized, and homeless communities will be an excellent foundation to build off of as a student at School X. 

Paragraph 3: 

  • Include any updates to your application since you have submitted your primary or secondary application. For instance:

Since submitting my primary application, I have been afforded the opportunity to…

Paragraph 4:

  • Include final remarks about why this school excites you and reiterate that this school is your top choice as well as include brief reasons why. 
  • Thank the school again for their consideration of you as an applicant. 

Sincerely / Very Respectfully / Thank you again, 

[include a hand-written, computer generated signature]

Your name 

AMCAS/AACOMAS/TMDSAS ID:

Therefore, a med school letter of intent, if written meticulously, can be an excellent tool to demonstrate both your interest in a school as well as show more about who you are as an applicant. Remember, once you have drafted your letter, have a trusted mentor or advisor read through your letter for grammar, syntax, and content. As always, good luck with your applications and journey towards becoming a physician! 

Applying to Medical School during COVID-19

Applying to Medical School during COVID-19

  • Author: Motivate MD

Applying to Medical School during COVID-19

Megan and Adina recount their experiences and lessons learned from applying to medical school during COVID-19. The pandemic has the potential to forever change how applicants apply to medical school. We hope these insights and tips help applicants for years to come as they navigate this already complex process. 

Megan
Medical Student at the Medical College of Georgia

The COVID-19 pandemic obviously affected every aspect of our lives over the past year, and that included the medical school application process. The already grueling process of taking the MCAT, completing the necessary requirements and classes, filling out primary and secondary applications and interviewing became even more stressful due to the general uncertainty in our lives. Here are some of my experiences applying to medical school during the COVID-19 pandemic!

The MCAT

The very first thing for me that was affected by the pandemic was the MCAT. The AAMC cancelled all MCAT dates pretty early on when the pandemic hit, without any hint of when we would be able to reschedule. Since I had scheduled my date for the end of May, I was included in the thousands of applicants that did not know when they would take the MCAT for weeks. I stopped my MCAT studying for a few weeks due to the disappointment and uncertainty of the situation. Eventually when the MCAT dates were released, the AAMC announced that the testing time would be shortened!

AMCAS

The AMCAS application deadline was also pushed back, and the biggest thing that was affected by the pandemic for me was getting letters of recommendation. I was planning on asking for my letters of recommendation in person from professors. However, when schools shut down, I had to rely on email for contacting people to request letters. I had to learn the importance of written communication and ensuring that I could provide them with adequate information to write a unique, personal letter of recommendation.

PRO TIP: One thing that helped immensely was having my personal statement finished early in the cycle to send to my letter writers, so they knew more about me and my journey towards medicine!

Interviewing

Personally, the interview process was made easier for me because of the pandemic. All interviews were in an online format through Zoom or a similar platform, which for me meant that I could be in a familiar environment like my room and not have to worry about finding the location of the interview, waiting in line with other applicants or driving to an unfamiliar location.

I felt like I was much less nervous and stressed than I would have been had the interviews been in person, which I believed helped my performance and helped me to be more myself during the interviews. The virtual interviews also cut down on the costs of transportation, hotels and other costs of traveling to schools to interview.

Tips for Applying

Pandemic or not, the medical school application process is long, gruesome and stressful. So, take breaks and make time for yourself!

Make sure you take time for yourself every day.

It’s easy to get caught up in MCAT studying, perfecting your personal statement and filling out secondary applications. Do at least one thing you enjoy every day!

Try to finish your personal statement and start requesting letters of recommendation as early as possible!

Starting to have an idea of what you are going to talk about in your personal statement months in advance can help prevent you from falling behind and getting stressed when the AMCAS application opens.

Try not to get caught up in comparing yourself to others.

It’s really easy to go online and read blogs and other people’s experiences and worry about whether your application and experiences compare, so limit the time you spend on Reddit or similar websites.

Pre-write secondaries!

Most schools use similar or the exact same prompts, so doing a quick Google search of the secondary questions that the schools you are applying to used in previous years can help you to get an idea of the kind of questions and topics you are going to want to reflect on.

Spend time with friends and family.

Keep your mind off of medical school applications and MCAT studying for at least a few hours each day and just enjoy the company of people you love.

Adina
Medical Student at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine Phoenix

In March 2020, I was gearing up for the upcoming medical school admissions cycle. I had started brainstorming drafts and anecdotes/stories for my medical school personal statement, reflecting on my four years of undergraduate education at UC Berkeley including all of my extracurriculars.

Like many pre-medical students, I was working on weaving together my story to answer the simple question- “Why medicine?” For me, that answer had never been so easy, such that preparing early before the applications opened in June was important.

I had already decided that I was going to take one year off to work in between undergraduate and medical school (a gap year) while applying. Little did I know then that this year off would be during a global pandemic- with new obstacles to overcome, even more than just the 5,300 characters of my personal statement

Learning to Adapt 

Like many, I had to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic. In regard to the medical school admissions cycle, I felt anxious about the uncertainty of applications with the state of the world in lockdown. Schools began to release their “COVID-19 updates

  • Optional MCAT
  • Extended deadlines 
  • Virtual interviews

Coming from a family with no previous members applying to medical school, the application was already a daunting task and the changes from the pandemic definitely did not help. 

What was there to do in a time like this? 

Well, I reached out to multiple resources including pre-health advisors at my school and the Motivate MD team. Advising sessions with the Motivate MD team helped me put a plan in place to apply to new positions for my gap year (my original job became no longer available due to the pandemic) and helped me create a schedule to edit and finalize drafts for my personal statement and works and activities list. Applying to med school during the pandemic was something completely unprecedented, but knowing that I had a plan in place left me feeling confident for the cycle. 

Apply Early 

For me, applying early was a game-changer, and the impacts from COVID-19 actually gave me a lot more time to work on things like reflecting deeper on why I want to go into medicine and drafting secondary applications.

Even as the admissions cycle came to an end, I still felt the effects from applying to medical school during COVID-19. 

  • I never got to visit the campuses I interviewed at
  • I did not get to see any in-person second look events
  • Networking with current students over zoom definitely increased the challenge of understanding the community at each school. 

But, like many of you, I am adapting and learning to rely on other resources like virtual tours and zoom panels/events. 

I feel that the pandemic has helped me cultivate resilience that I will and have utilized in med school! To all of you premeds that may feel overwhelmed by applying during such an unprecedented time, know that you are not alone. I encourage you to take this time to keep reflecting on what motivates you to go into medicine

Share your journey with the admissions team and know that everyone has gone through increased challenges and stress during this past year. My best advice for applying to medical school during COVID-19: prepare early and start practicing those virtual interviews.

BS DO Programs

BS DO Programs

  • Author: Motivate MD

BS DO Programs

Commonly asked questions about BS/DO Programs along with the Programs by state

BS DO Programs
Best BS/DO Programs

Part 1: Introduction

What are BS DO Programs? 

BS/DO programs (Bachelor’s of Science/Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) grant select individuals a reserved seat in an osteopathic medical school as they work towards completing their bachelor’s degree. This pathway is very attractive for pre-med students as it takes away the fear of not being accepted into medical school, allowing them to thrive during undergrad and reach their highest potential. Students will feel more empowered in these programs, as they are given the confidence that a career as a physician is in their future. 

It is important to note that the seat in medical school is reserved, not guaranteed. This means that undergraduate students will have to continuously work to maintain certain grade point averages (GPAs), both cumulatively and within the science courses in particular. Students in some programs may also still have to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT); however, scores required to continue into the medical school and earn their seat may be lower than the average that is accepted each year during the traditional medical school application cycle.

Prerequisite courses must be passed with a minimum grade specific to each school, and must all be completed prior to matriculation.  All requirements to earn the reserved medical school seat will be outlined to you upon acceptance, and can be found on the university’s website in most cases. 

Part 2: FAQs

When do you apply to BS/DO Programs? 

Oftentimes, students can apply during their senior year of high school, along with the rest of their college applications. You will be required to apply to the undergraduate university that is part of the BS/DO program, along with a sort of “secondary” application to the actual dual-degree program itself. This special application can be found on the school’s website, along with the deadline to submit. 

Some programs allow students to apply during college as well, often during their freshman or sophomore years. This is usually only limited to current students of the undergraduate school affiliated with the osteopathic medical school.

What are the requirements? 

These are often school specific, but it is important to have a strong science background. These schools want to see that you are an individual who is rigid in their goal to become a doctor, and by following previous trends, they can easily predict your potential success in the BS/DO program. Be sure to keep in mind the minimum GPA requirements for the BS DO programs you are interested in as you progress through your studies in high school. 

SAT and ACT:

SAT and ACT requirements are also outlined on the schools’ websites. Some may require either exam, while others may want scores from both. SAT Subject tests are usually not mandatory, but are appreciated when part of the application. 

LORs (Letters of Recommendation):

Certain programs may require a letter of recommendation from a DO physician, so it is important to stay aware of this and prepare accordingly. When choosing a letter writer, be sure to ask those you believe will contribute strong recommendation on behalf of your candidacy as a physician. Physician letters hold a special place during the application process, as admissions committees want to know that medical professionals who know you personally see you as an excellent medical school candidate, even as it is very early in your career. 

Secondary Applications: 

Finally, the “secondary” application will include essay prompts for you to complete, which can resemble the typical medical school personal statement. Make sure that as you construct your responses, you are accurately conveying your love of medicine and desire to become a physician, tying in why a dual-degree BS/DO program would help you accomplish your goals. 

What is the process to get accepted?

  1. Interested students must first apply to the undergraduate institution affiliated with the osteopathic medical school they are interested in attending.
  2. A second application specifically for the BS/DO program must then be completed. This can be found on the medical or undergraduate school’s website. Each application has a particular deadline that must be observed in order to be considered.
  3. Applications are then reviewed by the admissions committee, and interviews are offered to select students.
  4. Once interviews are conducted, the admissions team can then make an educated decision regarding which students to offer an acceptance to. In some programs that have both a 7 and 8 year option, accepted students will be asked which track they would like to follow.
  5. Requirements for matriculation are then outlined according to the selected path, and then you will be all set to begin your journey to medical school!

What do BS DO programs look for? 

Along with the listed requirements, BS/DO programs are looking for someone who is very passionate about medicine. Being granted a reserved seat in medical school is a huge honor! As long as you are adequately expressing your love for the medical field and inspiration to become a doctor in your essays and during the interview, you are on the right track to getting accepted. The admissions teams for these programs want someone who is 100% certain that a career as a physician is right for them, even at such an early stage of their career.

What can I major in for my bachelor’s degree? 

In most cases, your choice of major is not limited by the BS/DO program! As long as you take the outlined prerequisite courses prior to medical school, you can choose to study whichever degree program appeals most to you. Oftentimes, students will select a sciences-based major, such as Biology or Chemistry, as the courses required for each will parallel topics on the MCAT and subject matter in medical school.

Part 3: List of BS/DO Programs by State

State 

DO School

Length of Study/Undergraduate College

Arizona

A.T. Still University of Health Sciences Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (KCOM)

8 year program affiliated with Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – Boston Campus

California

Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (Western U / COMP)

– 8 year program affiliated with California State University

– 7 year program affiliated with Pitzer College

Florida

Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-KPCOM)

7 or 8 year program affiliated with Nova Southeastern University

Illinois

Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine of Midwestern University (CCOM)

8 year program  affiliated with Illinois Institute of Technology

Maine

University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE-COM)

Affiliated with University of Hartford, Utica College, and more

Michigan 

Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSU-COM)

Affiliated with Michigan State University

7 year program with  Lyman Briggs College

Missouri

Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine (KCU-COM)

8 year program affiliated with many universities, including Wayne State College, University of Missouri – St. Louis, and Rockhurst University

New Jersey 

Rowan University College of Osteopathic Medicine

7 year program affiliated with Rutgers University – Camden

New York

New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYIT-COM)

8 year program Affiliated with Adelphi University

Pennsylvania

Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM)

7 or 8 year program affiliated with Seton Hill University, and more

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM)

8 year program affiliated with Adelphi University, Gannon University, or the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia

Texas

Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM)

Part of the Texas Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP)

Medical School Interview Experiences

Medical School Interview Experiences

  • Author: Motivate MD

Medical School Interview Experiences

Learn how to prepare and crush medical school interviews

medical school interview experiences
med school interview questions and answers

Part 1: Nontraditional MD Applicant's Interview Experiences

Sophia’s Medical School Interview Experiences: Nontraditional Applicant

 

Before the interview

I was a non-traditional applicant with three years’ experience post-college, including work and graduate school. Even though I had been through a fair share of interviews, I was still nervous. Being nervous about your interviews is a normal part of the premed process. To mitigate my anxiety, I overprepared. I hope the lessons learned from my medical school interview experiences help you out! 

Below are some of my pre-interview preparation tips.

  • Do your school-specific research. For each school I interviewed at, I had a list of reasons for why I wanted to attend that school. Your list might consist of specific professors or projects you want to do research with, particular volunteer opportunities you are interested in, certain aspects of the curriculum you like, and more. The more specific, the better!
  • Prepare a list of common interview questions (you can find a list here) and write out your answers to them. You should not memorize your answers because then you will sound like you’re reading from a script! But it is helpful to be able to glance down at your notes during the interview if you lose your train of thought.
  • Print out and bring the above with you to your interview so you can reference these notes if needed. 
  • In addition to packing your interview day clothes in advance, it helps to pack an “emergency kit” with important items like Advil, band aids, phone charging pack, an umbrella, deodorant (you’re gonna sweat!), makeup if needed, et cetera.
  • The night before my interview, I set out my clothes in advance so that I could save time getting ready. Often you will have to wake up extremely early to travel for interviews, so time is of the essence!
  • Of course, always arrive early. I generally arrived about 30 minutes early.’

 

During the interview

I approached my first interview like I was preparing for battle! Padfolio in hand, fueled by caffeine, and with pages of school-specific notes and answers to common interview questions, I felt ready to conquer. Being so prepared helped me minimize my nervousness and feel more in control. Being an over-preparer, I arrived at my first interview about 45 minutes early. 

After waiting alone for the first 20 minutes, other students arrived and chatting with them helped me feel less scared. It was reassuring to discuss interview experiences with the other students while we waited. And since some people say that the school is always watching you on interview day, it probably doesn’t hurt to be seen socializing. After waiting some time, we all followed a staff member into a conference room where they told us about the school. I made sure to take active notes so as to show my interest. Then it was time for our individual interviews.   

Here are my interview day tips for success.

  • Take notes as much as you can! At many of my interviews, I noticed that most students were not taking notes. It’s best to appear as interested in the school as possible the entire time you are there, so taking notes is a great way to show your interest as well as gather potential questions for your one-on-one interview, learn more about the school, and inform your future decision-making.
  • Try to answer your interview questions with information that you haven’t mentioned in your application. The admissions committee is going to evaluate your interview as just one part of your application, alongside all the other information you have already provided, so it does not add anything new if you use the same examples that you’ve discussed elsewhere in your application.
    • For example, in my interview responses I focused on my hobbies and interests outside of those that I had already put down in my application. And if you’re not sure if the interviewer has read your application, it’s ok to ask! That way you know not to repeat information you’ve already provided.
  • In your one-on-one interview, do not be afraid to be vulnerable if you feel comfortable doing so. In some of my interviews, I was asked versions of the “adversity question” and decided to divulge some personal experiences that were difficult for me. When this happened, my interviewer responded with empathy and thanked me for sharing. I think interviewers generally appreciate applicants opening up, if they are willing to do so, and sharing aspects of their lives because it gives admissions committees a more complete picture of the applicant.
  • It is better to take your time to answer a difficult question well than to jump to provide an inferior answer right away. I had to do this several times and when I asked my interviewer to give me a second so that I could think of a good example, they did not mind. In each case, I felt that the stronger answer I provided was undoubtedly helpful in presenting me as an excellent applicant.
  • When your interviewer asks if you have any last questions, make sure you ask a question! I always asked a question or came up with one because it made me appear more passionate about the school. I don’t think it reflects very well on an applicant to decline to ask follow-up questions.

 

After the interview

I always sent thank you emails to the people who had interviewed me (unless it was an MMI). I wrote a general template for these thank-you emails that I edited for each school. Using the notes that I had taken on interview day, I would mention specific things I learned, saw, or experienced on interview day and why those factors made me want to attend that school.

For example, in my letter to my current medical school I mentioned a local center for health disparities, current students’ focus on social justice, and specific research opportunities.  

  • Do this for all schools, even if you did not like the school that much on interview day. It is best practice to treat each school like your dream school!
  • Use strong, passionate language that connects to the interview and expresses your interest in the school. For example, “Speaking with you made me certain that [School Name] is the best fit for my values and interests and that I would contribute positively to your school’s mission.”
  • After you’ve interviewed and sent a thank-you email, try to take your mind off it. I know that’s close to impossible, but try to distract yourself with other activities because the admissions committee moves at their own pace. On the plus side, you now have great experience for upcoming interviews! 

 

Medical School Interview Day Routine 

By the time I went on to further interviews, I had developed a personalized “interview day” routine to maximize my success. 

  • For each school, I printed out a document of notes and my responses to common interview questions. At the top of each document I had a list of school-specific opportunities I was interested in, including extracurriculars, specific professors to do research with, etc. This was a helpful guide for questions to ask on interview day. On the first page, I also had a quick response to “why this school.” 
  • I always brought a padfolio (here’s a good inexpensive option) with a notepad, because I often had to take notes while not sitting in front of a table. 
  • I packed an “emergency kit” as mentioned above with medications, deodorant, makeup for touch ups, etc.
  • The morning of the interview, I would have a quick but filling breakfast such as oatmeal and fruit. I made sure to not eat anything smelly such as peanut butter.
  • When I arrived at the school early, I would review my school-specific notes to remind myself what questions I had for each school. Also, I reviewed my answers to common interview questions so that I could be prepared (but not sound rehearsed) if I was asked any of those questions. 
  • I always brought a water bottle with me because I found that talking so much was quite dehydrating.

Part 2: Interview Experiences During COVID-19

Megan’s Medical School Interview Experiences: During COVID-19

While I was a “traditional” applicant in the sense that I applied to medical schools during my last year of undergrad, my application cycle was anything but normal. Starting with AMCAS application dates getting pushed back and MCAT dates getting cancelled and subsequently delayed, applying to medical school during the COVID pandemic led to uncertainty and changes in the format of interviews. All interviews during my application cycle were held virtually, a concept that had not been previously conducted for the majority of medical school interviews.

 

Interview Formats

Interviews were held in a variety of formats that for the most part mirrored the interview style that each medical school had held in previous years. MMIs, group, panel and individual interviews were still held virtually within various platforms. For MMIs, participants are typically placed in virtual “waiting rooms” in between various stations and rotated through virtual “rooms” with different interviewers for a set number of minutes for each station. 

I personally experienced individual (one-on-one) and MMI interviews virtually. I found that I was actually less stressed than I would have been for an in-person interview since there was no stress of finding the building or room where the interview would be held and no waiting in line, watching each person in front of me get interviewed and then leaving.

In addition, the comfort of being in my own home helped calm my nerves and allowed me to relax and essentially do whatever I needed to do to get in the mindset until moments before the interview started. While interviewing virtually may not have given me the entire experience of getting to see the medical school campuses and interact with faculty members and students in person, I feel that I performed better given the less stressful circumstances. 

 

Tips for virtual interviews:

  • Make sure you have reliable internet and a computer with a working webcam! Use an ethernet cable if you can, and test your webcam with adequate time ahead of your interview so you can fix any issues ahead of time. 
  • Test out the software (Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams, etc) that you will be using for the interview ahead of time. Check your sound and microphone too- this is really important because you want the interviewers to be able to hear you and you want to be able to hear them!
  • Charge your laptop the night before or make sure that you can have your computer plugged in for the duration of the interview. 
  • Find a quiet spot in your home or somewhere else that you will be able to concentrate, and ensure that there won’t be any distractions such as pets. 
  • I listened to music until the minute before my interview started- definitely one of the joys of being in your own home! Do whatever you need to do to calm yourself down and get in the zone before your interview
  • Double check the time of the interview and whether there is a presentation before/after the actual interview. 
  • Make sure you have the documents you may need to check in with you- many interviews require that you show a photo ID. 
  • Virtual interviews usually come built in with breaks whether that is during the actual interview or between the presentation and the interview, so make sure you have a snack and some water handy!

Part 3: DO Student's Interview Experiences

Emma’s Medical School Interview Experiences

With a profound nervousness in the pit of my stomach, I hovered over the submit button on my medical school applications. At this point, in May, there was no way to know whether I would get secondary applications, let alone interviews. Once I received the first interview invite, it felt as though they came quicker than I could get days off of work. At the time, I worked full-time at Johns Hopkins Hospital during night shift, which posed considerable challenges for me in terms of logistics. I would need to request time off of which I meticulously accrued in advance in addition to scheduling traveling accommodations. Aside from this, I spent time searching for the “perfect” interview outfit of which, admittedly, was not perfect since brand new flats and my heel skin had a scuffle. The flats won. 

After preparing, traveling for interviews was a renewing experience. It allowed me the opportunity to show exactly who I am as a person as well as demonstrate what kind of medical student I would be as well. Based on my experiences, here are a few of the overarching pieces of advice I have for pre-medical students:

Practice. 

Whether you are a good communicator or struggle to articulate your thoughts, practicing only perfects your responses and evolves your ability to communicate with your interviewer. Being afforded the opportunity to perform many mock interviews for students, I have been humbled to see student progress between interviews. I, myself, can also attest to the fact that my latter interviews during the time I applied were likely better than the initial ones. Think of it this way: we are all guilty of thinking up the perfect response or dialogue and then it not coming out at all how we planned. This is where practice comes in to obtain both muscle memory and repetition. Over time, your responses will evolve and you will correspondingly be able to make additional connections to prove your candidacy for medical school. 

 

Prepare. 

At this point, you likely think I have not had enough coffee because I just told you to practice. Practice and preparation are similar though here are the differences:

  • Prepare your interview attire. 
    • Men: suits with a non-distracting tie, dress shoes that are comfortable
    • Women: pant suits or skirt at approximately knee length with comfortable shoes. Minimal jewelry or distracting accessories. 

Do not wait until the last minute to purchase a suit or find your attire. Occasionally, alterations will need to be made. This can be pricey, though remember this is an investment to your success and you will absolutely wear this formal attire again. Further, do not assume your attire fits from years ago. Try things on and practice in your attire as well! 

  • Prepare questions to ask your interviewer. 
      • These should be thoughtful questions of which CANNOT be found on the school’s website or other informational pages. 
      • Do not ask questions “just because.” We want to use your questions as a mechanism to also demonstrate your candidacy. 
  • Prepare your interview environment. 
    • Admittedly, for my interviews, this was more in the way of preparing travel arrangements. Though for interviews for this current cycle, you will want to prepare where you will sit for the interview and control what you can about your environment. For instance:
      • Do you have a good internet connection with a reliable and charged computer?
      • Will your family be home or aware you are interviewing?
      • Will your pets have a place to be to avoid excess noise during the interview?
      • Do you have good lighting and a neutral background?
      • Does your chair prevent you from fidgeting?
      • Will you need to request time off of work to complete interviews at home?

These are a few of the considerations you might consider prior to sitting for your interviews, though additional considerations will certainly depend on the applicant’s individual circumstances. 

  • Prepare yourself. 
    • Know the school’s interview format and incorporate this into your practice. As you will learn, MMI’s are rather different from traditional mock interviews.
    • Read through your primary and secondary applications to familiarize yourself with that of which you have written previously. This will give you a good idea of what you have emphasized thus far as well as where you can guide your responses from here. 

 

Thank Everyone.

Expressing your gratitude for the school’s consideration of you as an applicant never hurts. This includes writing personalized follow-up thank you emails to your interviewers to express similarly. Remember to be professional and thankful throughout the interview day since you never know who is watching! 

 

Emma’s Closing Thoughts

While I submitted applications early in an attempt to offset re-application and two gap years to acquire additional experience as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist, it was hard to know whether interview invites would arrive or not. Needless to say, I refreshed my inbox incessantly. When interviewing at the school I currently attend, I had nothing but positive experiences despite being tremendously nervous. Above all else, I could imagine myself at that school as I formed connections during my interview with those who worked at and attended the college.

Walking away from your interviews, remember that you have done all you can. Often the interviews of which I received very positive feedback and correspondingly thought I had a good chance of earning acceptance ended up being the schools of which I was surprised to be met with rejection. Similarly, some of the interviews where I felt I had not performed as well during the interview ended up being schools of whom were, in fact, interested in accepting me. Sometimes you can just never know. Despite this, going into the interview with confidence that you have prepared and done all you can is certainly enough! 

Good luck! 

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