In my journey to hopefully becoming a doctor, I figured I would share a bit of my lessons learnt… (PS: this was written before I studied abroad in France, before I received many interviews and medical school acceptances, before I graduated, and before I thought I figured out the “how to get into medical school” thing!)
This summer, about 15 medical schools recieved not only my primary (AMCAS) but secondary application as well as hefty “processing” fees. If anyone thinks to google the words “how to apply to medical school,” I have you in mind as there are many things I wished I would have known before switching from English education to biology pre-medicine.
A. You should have a social life. Go do something you enjoy. Most certainly do medically related activities and see if you want to commit the rest of your life to perpetual call and the service of sick, often unhappy, people. Go do something for other people because the more I studied for everything, the more unhappy I was and consequently all the people at practice, class, and home that I had to see. My teammates and family were my support system for continuing, as you should, in my second tip–
B. Study, study, study. Until the MCAT and GPA are abolished, the numbers actually matter. When I was at breakfast and before I went to bed, my little Kaplan review sheets or notecards were scanned over, plus my classes needed attention. I’m no genius just a hardworker and got a 30, median score, on the big test. Repetition works wonders.
C. Get a job. Applying to multiple schools increases your chances for acceptance, atleast that’s what I hear. But all that’s increased is my debt–plan on about 700 to 1,000 dollars for the first round and why not another thousand for the secondary applications (see E) which can cost anywhere from 25 to 125 dollars each.
D. Start the application process early. A month prior to the opening submission date, there is an informational PDF on the parts and questions of the primary AMCAS application. Go through that and plan what you will write, who to contact for references, ordering transcripts and where you will go for constant proofreading. Be a little creative as you are trying to stick out from a crowd of thousands for a spot meant for hundreds.
E. Research like you would in organic chemistry. There are DO, MD, dual degree programs and many different schools with various learning styles and tracts and opportunities to study abroad or not. If there’s an in-state option, the chances of acceptance often increase. Think about financial debt, location, etc.
F. Secondary applications come about a month after the primary is certified. Do these within about 2 weeks or less because it shows that you care enough to respond quickly. The painful process is a way for a medical school to find out other information, new information about your personality and goals and how they will fit into that certain school.
G. Thank everyone. Thank them for putting up with you through this process that felt like a full-time job and send some notes maybe a gift or two to your references. Thank some of the friends who were there for you, keep them updated. And thank God you’re just waiting, like myself at the moment, for that interview invitation!