Thursday, October 21College Admissions News

Important Things to Know About Medical School Admissions

In a research study done by the “Journal of Medical Education”, it was found that when applying to medical school, it is most important to get your letters of recommendation from people who know you and have actually supervised you throughout all or part of your clinical training. The results show that 36.6% of students received an interview offer when those letters were deemed effective, and only 8.7% received interviews with letters seen as ineffective. This shows us how important these three little pieces are in getting into a residency program for medicine after college or graduating from college without a degree in medicine because they can help get you into one of the top schools for medical education (medicine).

There is also another way to make stand out to the medical schools, and that is by having a perfect score on your MCAT exam. The article “Making medicine more competitive” shows us how important this standardized testing is for getting into medical school; it gives you an advantage over other applicants because the people who get accepted have the best scores. This could be one of the reasons why students choose not to go straight from high school to college but instead take a year off after graduating to prepare for this test. There are many ways you can do so: taking certain classes at community colleges or writing practice multiple choice questions over and over again just to be sure that you know everything inside out in order to get yourself ready for this exam.

Lastly, you need some kind of volunteering experience to show the medical schools that you have a passion for helping people. The article “Getting into medical school: an insider’s perspective” shows us that this is one of the best ways to get recognized as a good candidate. Volunteering gives you a needed connection with other doctors in your community and this can open up more doors than just applying for a position at any old hospital in your area, because when they actually see who they are working with then they might ask themselves ‘hey I know this person why don’t we hire him or her?’ These connections could get you hired if all else fails because once someone recognizes your hard work and dedication to medicine then there will be no stopping them from hiring you over somebody else without experience (assuming you it is the same person working at that hospital), because they have seen your passion and willingness to help people.

Therefore, overall it is important to start volunteering as soon as you are done with high school or college so that your name will be known around the area for helping out in a good cause. It will also get you a step above the rest of your competition because only 12% of applicants have some kind of volunteering experience on their application when applying for medical school. Also, getting all A’s in high school and college is a big plus so that you can show how dedicated to learning you are and how good your grades were/are. If this is not possible then study hard for an MCAT exam to score well on it so that the schools take notice and see that you care about more than just yourself but other people as well. Lastly, getting letters of recommendation from supervisors who know what kind of work you put into clinics during clinical rotations shows how valuable these kinds of people are because they can showcase your skills both inside and outside the hospital.

How do residency programs determine who to interview?

Applicants are divided into two categories: “primary” or “secondary.” Primary applicants have an undergraduate GPA between 3.7-3.95, and standardized test scores above the 90th percentile (i.e., between a 31 and 33 on Step 1). These applicants automatically receive interview offers, with all schools giving priority to primary applicants within each specialty category (i.e., internal medicine residents at one hospital may be ranked higher than family medicine residents at another, producing a resident “match” between two programs). Secondary applicants have an undergraduate GPA between 3.0-3.6, and test scores above the 50th percentile (i.e., a Step 1 score of 25), but below the 90th percentile. These applicants will receive interview offers if they rank high enough within their specialty category, are geographically desirable (located near their home campus), or both. The rationale behind predefining “primary” and “secondary” categories is to limit students with excellent grades from applying to multiple competitive programs in order to maximize their chances of receiving an offer at one of them:

otherwise

, the applicant would be rejected by every program to which they applied. This policy is called “matching” and ensures that medical students are available for residency training if and when a spot opens up.

…Residency programs approach interview season like you’d expect: with a lot of preparation! [Graph created with the data from this article]

In order to get into these competitive residencies, the schools have established committees that make lists of applicants depending on their ranking within their specialty category or how much interest they had shown in volunteering there. These rankings are based off of the student’s GPA, MCAT scores, letters of recommendation, volunteerwork experience as well as their application essays and personal statements (if these aren’t all completely terrible). There are about two dozen residency programs in each state , with the number of students graduating from medical school being around 300-350 a year, thus there is only room for so many residents to rotate at each hospital. The deciding factor between which student gets offered what residency spot is based entirely on where they ranked within their list.

Which brings into question: how does one get listed higher up? Well, it can be done by either helping out at local hospitals during attendance (volunteering) or working hard for leadership positions (such as president) in undergraduate and postgraduate organizations such as the American Medical Association or official school clubs. Volunteering your time has been shown to improve rankings even if you aren’t necessarily top of your class! these are great ways to get your name out there, and be recognized for all the hard work you’ve put into school.

How do residency programs determine who gets an interview?

Every year, students across the nation send out hundreds of applications in hopes of landing one of those coveted positions. With over 70 medical schools in California alone , it seems unlikely that every student will get a chance at a spot; however, most students who apply only have their sights set on two or three programs . In order to select from which applicants they would like to issue interviews, many residency programs use a computerized system called “V

So what happens if you don’t get ranked in the top 10-20 of your list? Well, its obviously not a good thing to be placed lower down on it than you would like, but this is not something to worry about for 2 reasons: 1) The difference between ranking 15th and 25th is minor when compared with the difference from say 30th to 35th. This means that even if an applicant was “bottom of the barrel”, they were still able to surpass many people who were ranked above them; and so being at the bottom may just mean that there is only room for improvement from here onwards.

All applicants are also assigned a Departmental Rank by which the program ranks its own residents as well. These wil varyl from school to school, and can affect where you rank in the overall competition. For example , if the program’s residents place very well in their individual fields of study (which are referred to as “Honor Societies”) but their students do not perform so well on standardized tests or volunteer work, then an applicant with high test scores but lower volunteering experience will have a higher departmental ranking than that person who is ranked first amongst all residents, only because they did better than the average student at his/her own medical school!

This year’s match cycle has 2 rounds: The Preliminary Match which occurs in February through March and consists of applicants being sorted into NRMP pools for each specialty-type residency program (Internal Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics, etc.) as a group. Then the actual matches occur in May and can be thought of as an individualized round consisting of applicants being matched based on their rank lists from the above pool (which is essentially how many times they put in which program on that list).

The match rates for this year were similar to last years with more than 92% of applicants being successfully placed in residency programs , but at what cost? The average medical school debt amount per graduate is currently slightly over $170 000 dollars, so it may be safe to assume that the majority if not all of these students who “matched” had taken out loans to cover living expenses while attending medical school – although r esidency positions are intended to help pay off much of this debt with their high starting salaries, many residents consider it a financial burden since they are usually paying off 15-30 thousand dollars of debt every year while simultaneously saving money for their future.

Faced with the option of leaving medical school unfinished, some applicants must decide whether to take out more loans in order to continue schooling or leave med school and pay back all student loans that have been taken out; however, this does not mean the end of their chances at becoming a doctor. The second round of matches , known as the Preliminary Candidacy Match (Prelim), allows candidates who did not match in any residency programs during the main NRMP match an opportunity to be placed into one of these residency positions! While the deadline is generally earlier than the regular match, this program can be a way for applicants who were not matched on their first attempt to find residency positions.

To learn more about the NRMP see here: http://www.nrmp.org/ .

The “where” question is much easier to answer than the “what will I do there?” one and for good reason – many medical schools employ what is known as a waitlist system, where students are accepted into the school but without knowing exactly when they will enter it or if at all; therefore these students are placed on a sort of waiting list until a spot opens up in order to move forward with schooling. In other words , often times while you may have been accepted into a medical school, you